Homeserve - Sewer backup - insurance

14 Replies | Baltimore, Maryland

I own two properties in Baltimore city.  I keep getting letters from Homeserve trying to get me to purchase sewer line backup insurance.  The city has contracted with Homeserve to provide insurance against sewer line backups that spill over into the basement.  It's the city's way of trying to avoid having to pay for these issues when they happen (and they do happen pretty frequently).  The city is currently replacing sewer lines, and the work is apparently leading to a lot of sewer line backups into basements.  There was an article in the Baltimore Sun over the weekend about it.  Seeing that article made me think seriously about purchasing the insurance plan.  I'm trying to figure out if it's worth it or not.  Are they going to cover the cost to clean/replace drywall, etc., or just clear the block and then you are still stuck paying for damages?  Any other Baltimore investors/landlords have or consider purchasing insurance that covers sewer line backups?

Rob, I own a bunch of houses and commercial properties, they have never contacted our company or me.

I have had back ups before, but not that many. If we find it is a tenant caused probable, we charge them for the cost of clean out.

Depending on the price of the insurance, it may be worth it, but if you only have a few houses, the odds of not having a back up is in your favor.

As an investor and future owner of many more properties, you should try your hand at doing it yourself;

  • Rent the machine with the auger and motor on it
  • Turn the water off to the commode
  • Drain it as best you can
  • Remove the two closet bolts (when replacing, don't tighten too tight or your brake the porcine commode).
  • Remove the wax ring--- messy, stinky -- use cloves - don't get it on your clothing
  • Life the commode from the waste line......guaranteed you'll get water on you (hope it is not yellow)
  • Now feed this heavy cable down the waste line as far as you can go.
  • Push the start button on your machine and watch the cable spin as it seeks the block, oh, be careful because sometimes stuff will fly out and may  smack you in the face.
  • If you are lucky you'll find a baby's toy, a rag or some sort of material that may be unpleasant; bag that ugly stuff for later disposal.
  • Oh, did you buy a wax ring? They come in two models; one with a flange and one without, I usually buy one of each just in case, sometimes you'll need two wax rings if the commode is not seating tightly,  you don't want to flood the bathroom  and have to start all over again.
  • Put the commode back, tighten the closet bolts and test for leaks and flow.
  • Clean up the mess you made, clean the equipment before you take it back to the rental store. Change your cloths before you enter your home, wash up - take a shower - have a drink.
  • There now ------ a job well done!

Alternative: Call a plumber ------- your time is more valuable finding, negotiating and closing great deals.

Charles Parrish

Most landlord policies offer this as an endorsement to the policy. Our company does and depending on the amount of contents you would be covering the endorsement adds about 30 + per year to the policy. This is inexpensive considering all things. Keep in mind that there is no coverage on either home owners policy or a landlord policy if this endorsement is not added on. The insurance companies always go back to the trigger or the 1st covered cause of loss. If the event was not covered to begin with because the endorsement wasn't added, then any events stemming from the original event are thereby not covered.

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@Rob Gribben i have the endorsement  @Kevin R. speaks of. After one sewer backup on a personal residence and my insurance paid out over $65k, I ALWAYS add this endorsement to all my policies. 

Updated over 4 years ago

Update: the coverage I speak of does not cover cleaning out the stopped drain or replacing a failed drain. Homeserve covers the repair or replacement. Note they have two types of policies: indoor and outdoor. If you don't have an exterior clean out, Baltimore City will not be able to snake your line. You must have a plumber do this from your inside clean out all the way to the man hole, which is my case was more than 100 feet away! Ask me how I know!

@Kim Coleman

I contacted my State Farm agent, and surprised to hear they don't even offer sewer backup on rental properties.  Maybe time to look for a new insurance provider!!

I have it on my old home that I now rent out.  It's 8.99/month.  The orangeburg is collapsing, it's only a matter of time.  The 3-5K it's going to cost is covered for 8.99/mo.  I have called multiple times to confirm, this is a rental and no deductible.  

@Tanner Duncan I had a neighbor who had a sewer backup.  The problem was actually under the street (on Baltimore City's terrain).  The homeowners first had to install a clean-out access just outside their house so they could properly snake the drain.  I wonder if the insurance would have covered this?  I don't have an access on my house.  It cost my neighbors around 4k to have the sidewalk torn up.  

Get it if its available. Water is my arch enemy...i despise it and cheer on the sun when it makes the world dry. Water destroys everything it touches and goes out of its way to do it. Sewer water is 5 times worse due to the gross factor.

I just had a sewer back up problem that was quoted for 5K. I purchased a HomeServe insurance last summer, and turned out it was the best thing I ever did. 

I basically paid 35 dollars this year to pay my 5K sewer back up problem

I recommend it to everybody, and I immediately covered my other properties. 

ive been in the plumbing industry for over 30 years and have never heard of such a thing that's awesome

what is the plan like and what does it cover?

must be a blanket the city or county put out to cover faults created by there construction of the new sewer lines?


it would seem that a reputable insurance carrier would cover water or flood damage to a property

I'm thinking about starting a lightbulb insurance blanket- anyone interested?


just look at the policy with a microscope before jumping in


@Kim Coleman @Stanley Parsley

Last year, we had a sewer back up at one of my properties.It was an emergency, we called Len-the-plumber, they investigated, and said that pipes outside of the house to the city line need to be replaced. 

However, I called 311, they came out, cleaned out their end of the things, len-the-plumber guy did some stuff on our,and problems was gone. 

However, one of my friend who works in the city told me about HomeServe, I purchased the insurance just in case, and that was it. 

 9 months later,almost 3 weeks ago now, I got a call for the same issue, plumber came investigated, said the exact same thing, quoted for 5k. 

We first called home insurance,did not really get any help, then we called Homeserve. Their plumber came, investigated again, said the same thing which is all the pipes outside of the house, in the yard to the city line, were destroyed because of the tree roots. 

They said it is covered. It took them 3 days, the first they dug-in with caterpillars, replaced the older pipes, put the new ones in.

Cost us 0 dollars. 

I highly recommend it. I already bought more coverage for my other properties.

@Ozzy Sirimsi thanks for sharing your experience. I have both the inside and outside plans currently. The inside one is more expensive not sure if I need it but definitely keeping the outside one after seeing your story. I had 2 back ups within 2 weeks of each other at one property. 

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I've cancelled my State Famr policies and secured insurance on the rentals with sewer back up protection (up to $5k).  The link below is an interesting artice in regards to the Homeserve insurance that the city DPW is endorsing.  I"m still considering purchasing through Homeserve as well since cost is so low and no deductible, and covers water line and sewer......

Another interesting article about HomeServe.  Wow, the city really picked a winner!